This Bible Study is part of the "1st and 2nd Peter" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Peter was one of the leading Apostles. He was sort of the spokesman and leader of the twelve. Many people think he was the first pope-yet if you do some interesting reading on that, you will find sources that say that the idea that Peter was the first pope is pure fiction.
Greetings! I am Doug Winnail, a Pastor with the Living Church of God. We are continuing with a study of 1 Peter-one of the general epistles in the New Testament. Peter was one of the leading Apostles. He was sort of the spokesman and leader of the twelve. Many people think he was the first pope-yet if you do some interesting reading on that, you will find sources that say that the idea that Peter was the first pope is pure fiction. He was not the first pope. There is no hint in the New Testament that he was a pope. There is no evidence that Peter was ever a bishop in Rome. It is very interesting to see some of the contrasts. Peter was married. He refused homage-when a man came and bowed down and wanted to kiss his hand, he said, "Get up, I am just a man." It is also interesting that Peter was not seen as infallible, because Paul challenged him on occasion over an incident that arose. So Peter was not the first pope, in spite of what many people say.
But Peter did write 1 Peter. It was accepted as a canonical book, an inspired book, as early as the second century. Peter was writing to a group of Christians along the northern coast in the northern part of Asia Minor-modern Turkey. He is writing what is called a general epistle-a pastoral letter to encourage Christians during a time of persecution.
In Chapter 2, he continues with the encouragement.
1 Peter 2:1-4
Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, [He is talking about the need to get rid of worldly attitudes that do not belong in the behavior of a Christian. We need to get rid of those things.] as newborn babes [Individuals have been called out of this world, given God's Spirit.], desire the pure milk of the word [He is drawing an analogy here. Babies nurse. He is saying that as new Christians we need to soak in and drink of the Word of God.], that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him [That is, coming to Jesus Christ] as to a living stone [Christ has got to be the foundation of our life. His teachings have to be the foundation stones in our life.], rejected indeed by men…
The Jews did not accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah. They rejected Him. The ancient Greek world, or the Greek world in Christ's time did not accept-they didn't know-that Jesus was the Messiah. So, He was killed.
1 Peter 2:4-5
…rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones [As we drink in of the teachings of Jesus Christ and apply those in our life, we will become living stones-growing and changing and overcoming.], are being built up a spiritual house [A spiritual temple, in that sense.], a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We have been called as Christians. We are told in Revelation 5:10 that our calling is to become priests and kings in the coming Kingdom of God. So, this is what he is talking about-a holy priesthood.
It is interesting, though, that during the Reformation this phrase, "a holy priesthood," was interpreted to mean a priesthood of all believers. In part, it was a reaction against the priesthood of the Roman Catholic church. Some today have taken this phrase, "a priesthood of all believers," to mean that everybody is a minister, that everybody can preach. Yet, that is not what it is talking about. In fact, the Expositors Bible Commentary mentions that this phrase, "the holy priesthood," does not mean each Christian is a minister with public gifts of speaking. What it means is that each Christian has an immediate access to Christ. We don't have to go through a mediator. It also means that we are all ministers in the sense of ministering to others, serving others, helping others-but not in the sense of a speaking ministry. So, this phrase has been taken out of context over the years. But, we have been called to become priests of God-part of the kings and priests that Jesus Christ is going to use when He returns to this earth to set up the Kingdom of God.
1 Peter 2:6
Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion [He is quoting here a prophecy from Isaiah 28:16.] a chief cornerstone, elect, precious [Isaiah was referring to Jesus Christ.], and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." [The word shame means your not going to be moved, you are not going to be moved out of the way.]
If we build our lives on a rock-on the teachings of Jesus Christ-trials may come along. Peter is dealing with trials. He says trials may come, but if you build on a rock-you build on solid teaching-you are not going to be moved, you are not going to be knocked out of the way.
1 Peter 2:7-8
Therefore, to you who believe [Peter is encouraging people who are being persecuted.], He [Jesus Christ] is precious; but to those who are disobedient [or who do not believe in Jesus Christ. He quotes here Psalms 118:22-a prophecy referring to those who do not believe.], "The stone [that is, Jesus Christ] which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense."
The Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Many people today believe in Jesus. They believe Jesus lived and died and was resurrected, but they don't believe Jesus. They don't believe His teachings. People today stumble over many parts of the New Testament. They stumble over the teachings of Jesus Christ. They stumble over the teachings of Paul and Peter. So, these prophecies are coming true today.
1 Peter 2:8-9
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. [In other words, the Bible prophesied that people would stumble over Jesus Christ and over His teachings.] But you [He says to the audience he is writing to-Christians in northern Asia Minor.] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people [We have been called to become kings and priests in the coming Kingdom of God. We have been called to become the firstfruits. This is the purpose of calling Christians today.], that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
The Bible says people that have not been called-that have not had their minds open by God's Spirit-are living in darkness. But we have been called out of that darkness into a marvelous light. He says, then, to these Christians in northern Asia Minor:
1 Peter 2:10-12
[You] who once were not a people [You were not drawn together as a group or as a unit.] but are now the people [Very possibly, they were Gentile Christians, so in some cases they may have been Israelites that lived in that area.] of God, who had not obtained mercy [in the past] but now have obtained mercy. [Then Peter comes back to his emphasis on Christian living. Even though you may be being persecuted, life may be difficult you, you still have been called to be lights and examples to the world.] Beloved, [Notice the warmth in Peter's address. It is not, "Hey, you!" but. "Beloved, my dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ] I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims [Christians on this earth are pilgrims. We can't be involved in this world's ways. We have to come out of that. But, we still have to live in the world], abstain from fleshly lusts [He is talking about sinful desires. You can't do that anymore, he is saying, if you are going to be a Christian.] which war against the soul, [That is, you fight mental battles.] having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers [This is the persecution Peter is talking about.], they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. [In other words, they will remember your example. They may speak evil of you now.]
Then, in verse 13 of Chapter 2, Peter launches into a series of examples and instructions that run over into Chapter 3. He talks about being submissive to government. He talks about the importance of Christians submitting to constituted authority-whether that is government authority, authority on your job or authority within the family. He uses the Greek word, hupotasso, which means to submit yourself, subordinate yourself and humble yourself-in that sense, subject yourself to authority, to acknowledge a person in authority as your leader.
1 Peter 2:13-15
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance [Now, some of these ordinances may have been laws or acts of the government that were going to persecute Christians for their belief. But, Peter said that as Christians, we are to submit ourselves to every ordinance] of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, [Referring really to the emperor.] or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God…
God has a structure-a "chain of command" in that sense. Jesus Christ came to this earth and He said to God, "Not My will, but Yours." Jesus Christ humbled Himself. He was obedient to authority. Anyone who wants to be God's family and be in the Kingdom of God has got to learn to work within the chain of command and be subject to authority-willingly and humbly working within that.
1 Peter 2:15-17
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; as free [That is, we are not under bondage to sin anymore. Once we have been freed from that bondage to sin-called into the Christian faith-he says] , yet not using liberty [don't use this freedom that you have] as a cloak for vice [Don't use it as a cover-up. "Well, I am Christian, I can pretty much do what I want." No, we can't!], but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. [You know, be subject to the authority that existed at that time.]
As Christians, we have to be subject to government authority, constituted authority because God said that is good, that is a good example, you are showing proper respect. Then he moves to another category of individuals. He says…
1 Peter 2:18
Servants [This could be slaves. In our society today it could be employees. We must be subject to those who employ us or are over us.], be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.
Some people say, "You mean I even have to be subject to somebody who doesn't treat me that well?" Peter says, "Yes!" Jesus Christ said that if somebody takes your cloak, give him your shirt, too! If somebody asks you for something, give more than what they have asked for. This is what we do as Christians. This is the same word. Submit to government. Submit to those who are over you. And Peter mentions again:
1 Peter 2:19-20
For this is commendable [God sees that. God sees whenever we are being dealt with in an unmerciful way. But, if we are patient and perservere to obey, God notices that.], if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.[That is commendable to God.] For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults [In other words, if we are arrested for beating up somebody, what Peter is saying is, that is your fault, that is not what Christians should do. But, if they are picking on you because of what you believe or because you are doing something right, he says God sees that and God will reward that.], you take it patiently ? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently [that is persecution], this is commendable before God.
God does tell us that vengeance is His, and that God will intervene if we do what we are supposed to do.
1 Peter 2:21-24
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: [If we are going to follow in Christ's footsteps, then we are going to have to endure some suffering too.] "[Jesus] committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; [Yet, He was also reviled.] who, when He was reviled, [Jesus Christ] did not revile in return [You know, our human nature and our natural tendency is, someone pokes us in the eye, we are going to want to poke them in the eye. Yet, we can't do that if we are going to be Christians and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.]; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to [God] Him who judges righteously; [Jesus Christ, it says] bore our sins in His own body on the tree [or on a stake where He was crucified], that we, having died to sins [When a person is called out of this world to become a Christian he has to put to death the old self; we die to the sinful nature that we had once before.], might live for righteousness…
Psalm 119:172 says, "All Thy commandments are righteousness." If we are living for righteousness, we are going to be living according to the commandments of God. That is our calling.
1 Peter 2:24
[Referring to Christ's sacrifice, it says] by whose stripes you were healed.
Jesus Christ died NOT ONLY to forgive our sins; He died so that we could come before Him and ask for healing, and so that the suffering Christ went through would be applied to us. If God heals in His way and in His time, we are instructed to ask. And that is what Peter is encouraging these people who were being persecuted and were suffering. He says, "Remember, when Christ died for you, He shed His blood for you, by His stripes you are going to be healed."
1 Peter 2:25
For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
That is what the Christian life is all about-coming out of this world, enduring trials and tribulations, but looking to Jesus Christ, to follow in His footsteps.
We will continue this series with Chapter 3 next. I am Doug Winnail, for the Living Church of God.